Frodo and Denethor
Chapter 8: Another Journey In The Dark
The rubble-pile was actually an extensive cave-in that had been dug out
a bit and bolstered by odd pieces of wood and blocks of stone. Frodo
had to crawl a fair distance before he came out into the wider tunnel.
The air was musty. It was utterly dark until he came into sight of the
lamps that Bergil and Peregrin had lit. They shone wetly on the walls
and floor. The roof was webbed with roots that had forced their way
down through the soil and had found cracks into the hewn stone.
Pippin helped Frodo manage his pack while he climbed down the slope of
loose stones. Sam could be heard coming further behind. Frodo sat down
on a rock and shivered; it was chilly down there, and he was still
tired and heart-weary.
Peregrin sat down next to him, and he slipped his hand into Frodo's. He
had wondered often, once he and Merry had escaped the orcs, if they
would ever see Frodo again. Pippin knew Merry would be gladdened to
hear that Frodo was alive and that Pippin had seen him, but he wasn't
sure how his cousin would react to learn that Pippin and Gandalf had
let Frodo go again, straight back into the darkest danger in the land.
Pippin had seen the Eye, had even spoken with Sauron himself. He did
not want to go to Mordor; did not want Frodo and Sam to go there,
either. But he knew that it had to be done, and that it was beyond his
doing. Reason or no reason, the young hobbit feared for his brave
cousin and wanted to be near him for as long as he was able.
Frodo squeezed his hand back, and Pippin thought he saw him smile in
the gloom. "Guard of the Citadel," he heard Frodo murmur. Pippin
blushed in the darkness. "I wonder what Elrond would say, if he saw you
in that armour?"
"Gandalf still calls me a 'fool', but he calls himself that, too."
Pippin said. "He is different that he was... merrier, almost. And more
They sat silent for a short time, then Frodo asked, "What did happen,
Pippin? To Boromir? Did you see him..." Frodo trailed off, not wanting
to increase the darkness.
"No. We were captured by the orcs before he died. He spoke to Aragorn
with his last breath, telling him that we had been taken. They weren't
sure at first, Legolas and Gimli, if you were with us or not, but
Aragorn figured out that you had taken a boat east. He decided to
follow the orcs to try to rescue Merry and I." Pippin paused, and Frodo
realized with surprise that Pippin was weeping! "I'm sorry, Frodo! If
Merry and I had stayed behind... maybe, Strider could have guided you
and you would have made it safe to Mordor and back by now!"
Frodo wrapped his arms around his cousin. Sam had appeared finally,
pushing his large pack ahead of him. Bergil helped him while Frodo
comforted Pippin. "Gandalf is right; you are a fool, Peregrin Took! If
you hadn't come with us, then my road would have been far grimmer. Safe
to Mordor! That is impossible, even if I were accompanied by a host of
Elves! Aragorn chose wisely, and I bless him for going after you and
Merry. I should have left the company long before I did. It was pure
selfishness that I stayed so long. But still, if I had left earlier, a
worse story might be told.
"All things seem to happen for a reason, Pippin, is what I am trying to
say. I don't understand it always, but I am learning. Sometimes you
just have to try, and even if you don't do what you set yourself to do,
your intention makes a difference somewhere. Here, dry those eyes
before you break my heart! Sam's here and we're ready to go. Do you
want to rest for a little, Sam?"
"I'm fine, Mr Frodo! Let's get this road behind us! I don't like these
damp tunnels... they seem unhospitable. Not that I'm looking forward
going back, mind. At least here, there ain't no orcs." And no Gollum,
added Sam, inside his head.
The tunnels seemed to go on for ever. They travelled steadily, Pippin
and Bergil each bearing a lantern to light their steps. Other tunnel
mouths opened right and left, but many of these were choked with rocks
and dirt, dead-ending within a few paces of the opening. Where each
tunnel intersected with theirs, the walls were reinforced with ancient
masondry, whereas along the straight lenghts it was merely hewed from
At one point, the way was utterly blocked with fallen earth but Bergil
led them swiftly down yet another tunnel where they were forced to walk
through chilly water. Fortunately, it was not deep, coming but to the
hobbit's knees. Then for an endless time they moved on, stopping for a
brief rest only infrequently. Each of them had become increasingly
uncomfortable in the long dark winding ways.
Frodo was wondering if morning had come to the world overhead when
suddenly right above them came a sound like muffled thunder. The walls
started shaking and a fine rain of dust began to fall, making them
wheeze and sneeze.
"What is that?" asked Sam, bracing himself against a damp wall.
Bergil pressed his ear to the stone. In the lamplight, the young man
reminded Frodo sharply of Strider, a shorter version of Strider, that
is, back when he had led them through the wild lands of Eriador. "It
might be an earth-shake," the boy said, "Sometimes that happens here.
But I am not sure that is what is happening now... I think there is
something moving across the fields above. Something heavy."
"Or many somethings, marching." Frodo's eyes were drawn upward to the
arched roof. "The war has begun. We must hurry! How much further,
They ran as quickly as they could in the cramped tunnels. The rumbling
continued. It was hard to breathe with all the dust in the air, but
they pressed onward, until the tunnel opened into a larger chamber
pierced with many openings, leading in every direction.
Bergil led them without hesitation into a left-hand opening, and
instantly Frodo noticed that they were now travelling northward. They
hurried this way for a time. The tunnel bent smoothly to the right and
became a stone-lined canal with a narrow, deep trench running down the
center of the floor, clogged with dry mud. An odor of riverwater and
waste came to their noses. They had reached the sewers of Osgiliath.
"Quietly," Bergil whispered, "Sound will carry far in these tunnels."
He led them on, counting silently as they passed other small tunnels,
some trickling water into the larger canal. They covered their noses
but it did not help. The water was fouled and noisome.
Now Bergil showed them a small passage that led off of the main way,
and it turned upward sharply, coming to an end with a rusted metal
grate that was twisted and damaged. They slipped through and smelled
the open air. A few steps would lead them outside. But the sunlight
they were hoping to see glinting through the bars was weak. Frodo
cautiously stepped forward and peeked outside.
The sky was brown, like the violence of a spring storm. Great banks of
black fumes were being blown over the Mountains of Shadow and had come
smothering over the lands, blocking all light from the sky. There was
the noise of marching feet, growing louder, shouts and snarls from the
orcs and men heading to battle in the plains. The stones of the ruined
city seemed to echo with the sounds. Most of the noise seemed to be
coming from the west, across the river.
Frodo turned back, and he looked at his guides. "Now comes our parting,
my friends. Master Bergil, I cannot thank you enough for showing me the
way. We should have been hopelessly lost in all those turning and
twistings! Get you back now to the City safely and take my cousin with
you." Bergil saluted him, then stood back as Peregrin embraced Frodo a
last time. Frodo nearly had to pry his arms from around him; he did not
want to let his cousin go, either. Pippin also hugged Samwise, then he
turned and raised his head, trying to look brave though his face
coursed with tears. He followed Bergil down the tunnel and the light of
their lanterns faded from sight.
Sam hefted his pack and looked at his master. Frodo was staring back
toward the tunnel where Pippin had gone. Faintly, they heard rumbling
again. "I hope those tunnels hold up until they get back, Mr Frodo. I
would hate to think of those two young 'un trapped on this side of the
river. I don't think much of being here myself!"
"Nor do I, Sam." Frodo looked back outside, and saw a large host of
orcs appear, marching along the road that wound back toward the black
mountains ahead. "Nor do I," he repeated softly.